NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens has announced that 33,000 hospital beds are available to treat further coronavirus patients. Exhibition centres in Manchester and Birmingham could be turned into hospitals by mid-April because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A temporary mortuary site is being built at Birmingham Airport in preparation for an expected rise in coronavirus deaths, West Midlands Police have said.
Meanwhile, health workers on the frontline in England will start being tested this weekend to see if they have coronavirus, the government has announced. Tests will be rolled out to critical care doctors and nurses first followed by staff in emergency departments, paramedics and GPs. Itfollows mounting criticism from NHS staff over a lack of testing.
Currently, only seriously-ill patients in hospital are being tested. At the daily press conference on the virus epidemic, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said antigen testing – which checks whether people currently have the disease – would give health and social care workers “security in the knowledge that they are safe to return to work if their test is negative”.
He added: “These tests will be trialled for people on the frontline starting immediately, with hundreds to take place by the end of the weekend – dramatically scaling up next week.”
The announcement comes after Boris Johnson today tested positive for coronavirus, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock also subsequently being diagnosed. Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty also announced he had the disease this afternoon. The revelations come amid the biggest day-to-day increase in the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK. The UK death toll rose to 759 today, an increase of 181 in 24 hours.
BBC / Independent / Sky